By Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy
National Guard Bureau
BROOKLYN, N.Y. (11/6/12) – More than 700 additional Army National Guard Soldiers from throughout the East Coast and Midwest are arriving in New York City to assist with relief efforts for those affected by Hurricane Sandy.
The Soldiers, sent as part of an Emergency Management Assistance Compact request, will largely be taking on commodity distribution missions throughout the New York City and Long Island areas.
EMAC, a mutual aid agreement between states, provides the ability to call and utilize assets from any National Guard unit in the country.
Among the Soldiers: 120 from the Delaware National Guard, who arrived Nov. 4.
"This call to duty is an excellent example of our National Guard in action.
We are the only military component with the dual mission of prosecuting the warfight overseas and supporting the homeland. The majority of these Soldiers recently returned from a year in Afghanistan, and just this past week our own state's emergency requirements. Today they leave to support the citizens in need in the state of New York," said Maj .Gen. Frank Vavala, Adjutant General, Delaware National Guard.
The bulk of the Delaware Soldiers come from the Delaware Guard's 1049th Transportation Company, which is headquartered in Seaford, and returned last May from a year-long tour in Afghanistan. The mission will be to transport anddistribute commodities to citizens of New York who remain without power or otherwise in need.
“We're here to support and help move the state and city of New York forward through this natural disaster,” said Army Sgt. Geoffrey Williams, a mechanic with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard’s Company A, 228th Brigade Support Battalion.
Many of the newly arrived Soldiers will take on duties and missions that members of the New York National Guard have been handling in the week since Sandy made landfall.
“Our mission is we're gong to support the New York National Guard with their operations,” said Army Staff Sgt. David Rivera, a supply noncommissioned officer with B Company, 228th BSB. “We’ll be running operations out in the city, providing generators for electricity, getting the fuel out there for them.”
Many residents in Long Island and parts of New York City remain without power as well as access to food and clean water.
As a way to keep supplies flowing, a logistical support area has been set up at Floyd Bennett Field here. Supplies are loaded on Army Guard trucks and then with escorts from the New York Police Department to aid in movement through the city, the supplies are then trucked to distribution points in the affected areas.
Operations have been ongoing since the days after Sandy struck the area, and keeping those supply lines running means having maintenance personnel on hand to tackle any maintenance issues that may come up.
For the Soldiers of the 228th Brigade Support Battalion, that’s another mission they'll be taking on in the coming days.
“We have maintenance personnel and recovery personnel here in order to keep those pieces of equipment rolling down the highways,” said Army Chief Warrant Officer Wyatt Pusey, an automotive maintenance officer with F Company, 228th BSB.
The maintainers of the unit will have roughly 400 pieces of equipment from a variety of units to take care of, said Rivera.
“We're fixing vehicles so they can transport supplies in and out of the city,” said Pfc. Angelique Lopez, with G Company, 228th BSB. “My mission in particular is maintenance and I'm excited to be here and to do that, to help out. That's what I was trained to do.”
And with roughly 200 members of the 228th BSB on ground, unit members expect they'll be kept busy.
“I think it's going to be a tremendous job, but I know we have the Soldiers here that are capable of handling that mission,” said Pusey, who added that the real mission is simply helping those who need it.
“We had fellow Americans that had a tremendous tragedy come upon them that they weren't expecting. We're out there to help all of America when they need it.”
Contributing: The Delaware National Guard